Mittwoch, Mai 05, 2010

Irony, Honesty, Fraud and Coming Clean...

Irony keeps on hitting me straight in the face.

Greece, we now know, committed state fraud on a large scale by cooking its books to hide the fact that the country's finances were a mess.

Geórgios Papandréou is the 182nd (!) Prime Minister of Greece, is not only the Prime Minister, he is also the President of the Socialist International and the President of PASOK, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. While obviously a man of the Left, he apparently is also something rare: someone willing to face the truth. Or is he?

More exactly, he appears to be someone unwilling to perpetuate a fraud, but I have no way of saying that he is doing the voluntarily or involuntarily because of the fact that Greece had to come clean before its bankrupt state finances collapsed (as they would have when Greek debt had to be rolled over, as Greece could not have financed the roll over).

We are in a situation where perpetuating fraud - sometimes - brings vastly greater rewards than identifying it and correcting it.

Think where we would be if the Greek administration hadn't corrected the numbers that pointed out how broke Greece was: Greece could have kept its ratings, would have avoided the whole mess that is swirling around Greece and its government finances right now.

Or could it have?

At the end of the day, no: the fraud involved in Greece was perpetuated many years ago when the government embarked on an unsustainable path of economic development, consuming based on debt and, basically, lying about it. That can be laid directly at the door of PASOK and the current Prime Minister's father, the first Prime Minister from PASOK back when that party first came to power, where government wages exploded and heavy capital gains taxes instituted that initiated what has become the Greek Death Spiral (to coin a phrase).

Hence coming clean is, at the end of the day, always the best solution: honesty is the best policy. Fraud can only be hidden if it is small and, in the greater scheme of things, "harmless," whereby that threshold is damnably difficult to define. At the end of the day, however, the kind of systematic fraud that the Greeks - not alone, they, but in this case the most obvious and egregious failing - perpetuated represents the worst possible payback imaginable, made especially ironic because it was the policies not only of the party, but of Prime Minister Papandréou's own father which has now driven Greece into ruin.

I never thought that Greek Tragedy could be so bitterly ironic.

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